A Couple Chapters From Nicholas Bilotti’s upcoming book
The tragic events at the close of the school year in 1968 changed the Copiague school district forever. There had been no indication, no foreshadowing, at the start of the school year in September of 1967 that the world that the principal, Walter G. O’Connell, had meticulously created over the years, would come crashing down in just eight months.
I had taught hundreds of students during my years in Copiague and it was nearly impossible to associate particular students, even those for whom I held a special place, with the year of their graduation. The only exception is in the case of two young men who are indelible in my memory. They were, Dennis Murphy and Daniel O’Connell, both of whom graduated during the year of the riots in June, 1968.
Neither of the boys was a particularly outstanding student. They were average, and they could not have been more dissimilar. Danny was quiet and introspective. He was the principal’s son, and as such all eyes were on him as they had been on his brothers as well.
Perhaps it was expected, and probably unfairly, that Danny and his brothers would be something special, and that they would stand out, especially because their father had such a unique reputation. Danny ignored that pressure by doing his job in the classroom and by never asking for or receiving any special consideration from his teachers. He blended in with the rest of the student body, many of whom never made the connection between Danny and his dad. He was also a member of the baseball team.
Most of the five O’Connell brothers were good natured and reserved boys. The Murphy brothers were good natured outgoing boys. The Murphys were always in the midst of a laugh even if the laugh was at their own expense. My colleagues and I would make our way from the teachers’ cafeteria past crowds of students waiting for the bell to signal the start of home room, and on so many occasions as we walked by laughter would break out, and in the middle of the crowd of boys their faces flushed red with laughter, inevitably there would be Jack Murphy, and later on his kid brother, Dennis.
One time as my friends and I walked past the group, they broke into a spontaneous laugh.
“Dennis, are you guys making jokes about me or my friends?” I teased.
“No, no, no, I swear Mr. B.,” he said as he shook his hand and his head at my question. “We were laughing at something that happened in gym yesterday.”
“Okay, Dennis, but you’d better be telling me the truth. Quarterly grades are coming out soon,” I said.
“Mr. B., have I ever lied to you?” he asked putting on his best altar boy face, and which gave way to his perpetual smile, revealing the chipped front tooth that gave him a Huckleberry Finn expression that I remember so well.
“Okay, Dennis but I have my eye on you,” I said as I walked away with my friends.
“He’s a funny kid,” Jerry Spollen said.
“He’s a little crazy,” Harry Asner chipped in.
“Yeah, but fun crazy,” I said
As we walked down the hallway, Dennis shouted to me.
“Mr. B. My mom is baking you a pumpkin pie,” as his group began chanting, “Oh my God! Bribe, bribe, bribe.”
“Oh, geez,” I said to my friends. And then I turned to Dennis. “Hey, Dennis, why don’t you see if you can announce it on the public address system during home room?”
“What’s that about?” Joe Damanti asked.
“Now they really will believe he’s bribing me. A couple of years ago, his brother, Jack, was telling me about the delicious pumpkin pie his mother makes every year around Halloween. I told him that I love pumpkin pie, so Jack had his mother bake one for me, and now I get one every Halloween. After Jack graduated, Dennis brought one to me even before I had him in class. That’s how I got to know him.”
“It’s funny the things that they remember to do,” Jerry said.
“The year after Jack graduated, and the first year that Dennis brought a pie to me it was in the box that the kids get their graduation caps in.
“Catchy box, Dennis,” I said. “Not exactly out of Entenmann’s.”
He flashed that chipped tooth smile and said, “Mr. B., it was Jack’s mortar board box. We’re a big family. My mom doesn’t waste anything.”
So in September of 1967, it was my privilege to have both quiet and reserved Danny O’Connell, and loquacious and fun loving Dennis Murphy in my class.
The kids were quietly taking a test. As usual, every seat in the room was filled. You could hear a pin drop as the students looked intently at the directions that I had written on the board, and then back down to their papers. Even Dennis Murphy, who was seated alphabetically directly in front of Danny O’Connell, had an unfamiliar seriousness of purpose on his face. Because of the first letter of their last names, both boys sat in the very last row and they occupied the last two seats nearest the windows.
I turned from the board towards the class to emphasize verbally a statement that I had written on the board. Several things happened simultaneously at that point. I turned with my mouth open as I was about to speak to the class and in a flash, I was sure that I saw Dennis jump back down into his seat and at the same time Danny put his hands over his ears and quickly put his head down.
As I stood with my mouth open and before I could speak, I saw Dennis duck down. A small missile that I identified with my tongue as probably being a bb, settled harmlessly in my mouth. I couldn’t believe what just had happened. At the precise time that I had turned to address the class, a bb flew into my mouth. What are the odds on such a thing happening?
I acted as if nothing was unusual and as I held the bb in my mouth I remembered some of the stuff and nonsense that I had perpetuated when I was an incorrigible high school student.
I watched Danny, who kept his head down. The room remained quiet and then Dennis looked up slowly probably wondering why he didn’t hear the bb ping harmlessly off the slate blackboard as it whistled past my ear. Even Dennis could not imagine, or for that matter he could never duplicate, what had just happened. Dennis was aiming at the blackboard alongside of me, but his aim was a little off. He didn’t expect me to turn around as he let the bb fly. Dennis threw and Danny ducked. Some of the kids in the back of the room had seen what had happened but those in the front of the room were wondering why I had stopped talking, and why I was slowly walking to the back of the room, my eyes focused on Dennis.
Even though I was no more than two feet from Danny, he refused to look up. Dennis did look up. He looked at me as I continued to look at him, the bb still in my mouth.
“What’s up, Mr. B.?” he asked with the altar boy expression on his face.
I played the game and I ignored Dennis. I went directly to Danny.
“Danny, did you throw something, or did you see someone throw something at me?”
Now the whole class had changed their focus from their work towards the three of us.
“No, Mr. Bilotti,” Danny said. “I didn’t throw anything and I didn’t see anyone throw anything.” His face was as red as a sunset.
He was probably thinking that now this idiot, Dennis, is going to get us both suspended.
“Then how about you Dennis?” I asked. “Did you throw something at me?”
“Who me?” he asked. “Not me, and I didn’t see anyone throw anything at you.”
“Well, maybe you didn’t see anything because it was something small like a bb.”
“A bb? No, Mr. B. A bb would have made a noise. It would have bounced off the board and rolled around the room. Right, Danny?”
Danny wanted no part of this. He shrugged his shoulders and put on his best I don’t know face.
“Do you know what, Dennis? Now that I think of it, I’m positive that you threw a bb because you were the only one who I saw ducking down when I turned around to talk to the class. That was just before I almost swallowed the bb.”
“You almost swallowed the bb? Do you have the bb?” he asked, which I knew was some sort of an admission.
“Yes I do,” I said, “and here is the evidence.” With that I blew the bb out of my mouth directly at Dennis who scrambled out of his seat and onto the floor trying to avoid being hit with it while the rest of the class roared with laughter.
The building was exceptionally quiet especially so because of the rioting and fighting that had rocked it to its foundation just a few days ago, and final tests were cancelled. Teachers were finishing their end of the year chores happy that we had survived the most violent end of the school year that any of us would ever have. All of us just wanted to drive away and unwind and put the school year 1967-68 behind us.
My close friends and I sat in the faculty room speculating about what September of 1968 would be like. Would the old wounds be opened again, and would there be a continuation of the hostilities in September?
“Well, one good thing,” I said, “all of the leaders, both black and white have either graduated or they’re not allowed back in this district because of the parts that they played during the riots. That has to help and serve as a warning that there are consequences for bad behavior.”
“It’s gonna be interesting to see what Walter G. will do as principal in September,” Harry Asner said. “That old Marine is wounded. One thing is for sure, no one is gonna claim that ‘we’re one big family.’ We might have been one big family all of these years, but my God, after what happened, that’s over. If we’re still a family, it’s now a dysfunctional family. Walter worked so hard to make this school unique and a few idiots took it all away.”
“It is a sign of the times,” I said. “The whole country is choosing sides and rioting over Viet Nam. We just took a little longer to get there.”
“Have you seen Walter?” Jerry Spollen asked. “He’s crushed over this. The spring is out of his step. It all happened so fast. I wasn’t always sure when he said all of those things about family, but I’m sure now that he really believed what he preached to the kids over the years. He really felt that his school was unique and that we were an integrated family, and then one of his family members tried to take his head off flinging a chair at him while his back was turned. While that happened, others were trashing his building. He must see it as any father would see it if his children had turned on him.”
We sat quietly for a while, and I was thinking that we had witnessed the end of an era, not just in our school, but in our nation, as well, when the public address system came on announcing that the end of the year checks were in.
“Well, the checks are in guys. I’m going downstairs to get mine and then I’m going home,” Joe Damanti said. Let’s stay in touch over the summer and get together.”
“Sounds good to me,” I said. I just want to go to my room for a minute then I’m off too.”
As I walked towards the direction of my room, I saw Danny O’Connell and Dennis Murphy coming from the direction of my room towards the faculty lounge.
“Hey, Mr. B.,” Dennis Murphy said, “we were just looking for you.”
“If I had known that I would have slipped out the back door,” I said. “How are you doing, Danny? Are you keeping this guy out of trouble?” I asked motioning towards Dennis.
“I can’t get away from him,” Danny said. “Now he’s followed me into the Marines.”
“The Marines? Are you guys joining the Marines?”
“We joined last week and we’re leaving for Parris Island on Monday,” Danny said.
“Yeah, we’re going to boot camp together. I asked the sergeant if we could skip boot camp since the both of us were in combat in the cafeteria and on the third floor last month in the high school.” Dennis flashed his chipped tooth smile.
“He really did, Mr. B.,” and then looking at Dennis, Danny said, “and I don’t think that he thought you were funny, Dennis.”
“I hate sergeants who have no sense of humor,” Dennis said, as Danny shook his head and rolled his eyes at his incorrigible buddy.
I looked at the two boys, and they were just boys. They were recently on their high school baseball team where the enemy had been from Lindenhurst or Amityville, and now the Marine Corps would be their new team. They would be turned into men in a few short weeks, and I thought of that damned Viet Nam, and where if you lost, there might not be another game to play.
“That’s great guys,” I said. “I’m glad that you both looked for me. You two stick together and remember that the worst part of basic training or boot camp is the in your face harassment, but that’s just part of the game. Millions of guys have handled it and you can too.”
Then, not being able to voice what I was thinking about Viet Nam, I said instead, “You two Irish guys won’t understand this, but at a time like this Italians call for a group hug.” I spread my arms open and both boys awkwardly came forward and we embraced there in the hallway.
“You guys will be in my prayers. Danny, keep this guy out of trouble.”
I looked into Danny’s eyes. His expression was sincere almost as if he had given that some thought already, and as if Dennis was his responsibility.
“I’ll be on his case every minute,” Danny said, and then with a smile, “Whew, what a pest.”
“You’re stuck with me, Danny. He thought that he could sneak away by joining the Marines, Mr.B. I don’t think so,” and then that chipped tooth grin. What a pair.
We stepped back and shook hands and said goodbye one more time. I watched as the two of them, Danny and Dennis walked down the hall arguing over something, and out of the building.
The school year of 1968-1969 was a quiet year. There were none of the disruptions that the administration and faculty had feared. Students attended their classes as they had done in the past. We had our assemblies where the principal sang O Holy Night at Christmas, and Danny Boy at Saint Patrick’s Day, but Walter G. O’Connell never again spoke to the student body as being brothers and sisters of the spirit if not of the flesh as he had always spoken to them in the past. The fervor seemed gone from him, and the family concept was never invoked again and so we went on with the daily business of education. We had lost the innocence that had made us different. We were the same as any other school now.
All the while the war in Viet Nam raged on and it brought down a President. Lyndon Johnson had been taken down by the war and civil unrest in the nation, and he chose not to run for President again. He walked away from the office that he had so much coveted all his life and the Presidency went to Richard Nixon, who pursued a more aggressive approach to the war in the hope that he could break the will to fight by the North Vietnamese and to bring them to the peace table. The spirit of the nation was in shambles.
It was the spring of 1969, and my seventh year at Copiague High School. I was on cafeteria duty and I stood outside of the cafeteria and looked into the dining area that had been the scene of some of the worst riots just a year ago. I looked over my shoulder and I saw walking towards me in his Marine Corps green uniform, Dennis Murphy.
As he approached me, I saw the familiar chipped tooth grin come over Dennis’ face.
“Dennis! How are you?” I said, as he stretched out his hand.
He clasped my hand. “No hugs this time, Mr. B.,” he said and winked at me. “Wait until I’m out of uniform.”
“I’ll hug you whenever I please,” I said, and I did.
“You look great, Dennis,” and he did but I could sense that he was a bit more reserved now which was understandable.
“I’m glad that you’re still here, Dennis. Mr. O’Connell told me that Danny is on his way to Viet Nam and that you would have been with him but that you had to go to summer school again. You know, the same way that you went to summer school while you were here every summer, only now it’s with the Marines.”
“Nah, Mr. B., I got pneumonia in boot and I spent two weeks in the hospital, so I wound up two weeks behind Danny with a whole new bunch of guys. There was nothing that I could do. Danny was doing great. He finished as the top recruit in his class, and now he thinks that he can get away from me by going to Viet Nam without me. Well that’s not happening either. I’ll track him down when I get to Viet Nam. We started this together and we’ll finish it together.”
“So you got your orders for Viet Nam too?”
“That’s where I’m headed.”
Oh, my God, I thought to myself. I was hoping that the both of them, but that at least one of them, would have gotten a cushy job in the American embassy in Rome or in London, or someplace like that.
We spoke for a while about life in boot camp. What a fine young man the Marine Corps had turned him into, and just before the bell rang for the end of the period, I noticed that Dennis had missed a belt loop on the jacket of his uniform.
“What the hell is wrong with you, Marine? Look at this,” I said as I hooked my finger around the empty loop.
“Oh, my God, how did I miss that?” Dennis said as he unfastened his belt and passed it through the empty loop. As he was doing so the bell rang.
“I have to go to my next class, Dennis.”
“I have to go too, Mr. B. My mom, dad, and my brothers are taking me to dinner, but I just wanted to say hi to my favorite teacher.”
“Oh, who are you looking for?” I asked.
“I’m looking at him.”
“Thanks, Dennis.” I clasped his hand once again and put my hand on his shoulder, and we made our way to the front hall and the main doors.
I watched him as he headed towards the door and I shouted, “Hey Dennis!” He turned in my direction. “Keep your head down,” I said, “those guys aren’t shooting bb’s.”
“I’m telling you, Mr. B., Danny put me up to that one,” with that he smiled and waved and left the building.
Finals were over and teachers were finishing their end of the year procedures when the public address system crackled on. It was the voice of the assistant principal, Vito Amari.
“May I have everyone’s attention?” The voice was somber and faltering.
“Mr. O’Connell has just been summoned from the building. The Marines are at his home and all of the family is arriving there now.” There was a pause. “Please say a prayer for the O’Connell family,” and the speaker snapped off.
There was nothing else to say. We all understood that whatever the branch of service, when members of that branch came to your home, the news that they brought was never good news.
Private First Class Daniel Gerard O’Connell was killed in action on June 19th, 1969 by an explosive charge, while attempting to get medical aid for a wounded comrade while radio communication was down. The marine that Danny was trying to get help for survived to tell of Danny’s heroics. Danny was five months short of his nineteenth birthday.
There was no way to describe the mood in the high school. It was beyond somber. Everyone loved Danny and the O’Connell family. Our hearts went out to our principal, Walter G., who had his building ripped out from under him the year before, and now, a year later, to lose a son. To lose a child. There can be no greater tragedy.
I was drained of emotion and sick to my stomach as I drove home. Danny’s image and his words when he, Dennis and I said goodbye before the two of them left for boot camp in Parris Island kept racing through my mind. I couldn’t begin to imagine what life was like for his mother, Mary, his father and his brothers. He was just a kid proud to be serving his country in the same uniform that his father had worn.
The flag was at half-mast in front of the high school when I arrived the following morning. I walked into the high school office and the mood was as solemn as it had been when we received the news of Danny’s death on the day before. Secretaries were dabbing at their eyes. I went to the sign in book, and on the sign in desk I saw two Marine Corps pictures. One was of Danny and next to Danny’s picture was a picture of Dennis Murphy, and under it was written: Pray for the souls of Private First Class Daniel Gerard O’Connell, killed in action on June 19th, 1969 and for Private First Class Dennis Gerard Murphy, killed in action on June 18th, 1969.
I felt my knees buckle. No, no, no! It couldn’t be true.
And then I said out loud, “Not the two of them. There must be some mistake. Not both Danny and Dennis a day apart. Maybe they got their names confused. Oh no God. How could this be?”
One of the secretaries looked up.
“It’s true, Mr. Bilotti. Mr. O’Connell is over at the Murphy home right now,” and she turned around, her shoulders shaking gently as she cried into a tissue.
It was so typical of Walter G. He had received word the day before of the death of his own son, and yet he put aside his own feelings to console the family of Dennis Murphy, another fallen Marine.
Although Danny had been killed a day after Dennis was killed, Danny’s body came home first. As I viewed Danny’s body I couldn’t help but think how fresh and alive he appeared to be, almost as if he was sleeping under his plexi-glass covered casket. The Marine honor guard stood by Danny’s coffin as throngs of people came to pay their last respects.
I don’t know from where he got his strength, but Danny was eulogized by his father at his funeral Mass.
And then Dennis’ body came home, and as with his Danny, the Marine Corps honor guard stood by the young Marine’s coffin. Dennis like Danny wore his Marine Corps Blues. The top of Dennis’ head was covered with a bandage, and he as with Danny, was under plexi-glass.
I didn’t learn as much about the facts of Dennis’ death as I did about Danny’s. What I did learn was that Dennis had been wounded already in combat but he insisted on going back to join his fellow Marines while he tried to get into Danny’s unit. He was killed by small arms fire while on a jungle patrol and received the Silver Star for bravery in action against the North Vietnamese. Dennis was five months short of his nineteenth birthday.
The two Marines are buried close to one another in Suffolk County, and their names are located close to each other on the Viet Nam War Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C.
Daniel Gerard O’Connell. Panel W. 22, Line 92.
Dennis Gerard Murphy. Panel W. 22, Line 79.
The small town of Copiague and of Copiague High School sent many of their young men to fight for their country in Viet Nam. A total of five made the supreme sacrifice.
FIRE IN THE EAST VENICE
Student Council Helps Combat Childhood Cancer
In recognition of childhood cancer awareness month, Copiague Middle School’s Student Council held a fundraiser in support of Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. To raise awareness to both staff and students, members of the student council sold wrist bands over a two-week period. Their efforts raised $243 for the foundation.
Susan E. Wiley Joins the Fight Against Breast Cancer
The staff and faculty at Susan E. Wiley Elementary School in the Copiague School District are taking part in breast cancer awareness month by making donations of $5 every Friday in October when they wear pink.
October is breast cancer awareness month and Susan E. Wiley Elementary School in the Copiague School District has joined together in the fight throughout the month.
Kicking off their fundraising effort on Oct. 5, families were asked to make a donation to “turn the ribbon pink,” writing their names on small pink ribbons to fill in a larger pink ribbon that hangs in the main hallway. That event raised close to $300 alone.
To further the effort, staff and faculty at Susan E. Wiley are donating $5 to wear pink to school every Friday during the month, which will be donated to the American Cancer Society. The school’s “Making Strides Against Breast Cancer” effort will also include a walk at Jones Beach on Oct. 16.
Man Arrested After Copiague Carjacking
A 24-year-old man was arrested following an armed carjacking in Copiague Wednesday night, police said.
According to police, a 20-year-old Copiague man was sitting in a 2007 Toyota in front of 376 Ferraris St. at 9:45 p.m. when he was approached by a man who displayed a gun and demanded that the victim get out of his vehicle.
The victim fled on foot and the alleged carjacker, Marquese King, drove away in the Toyota, police said.
Marquese King (right) being taken into custody Wednesday night.
First Precinct Officers along with the Canine Section and Aviation Section responded and located King on Cabota Avenue in Copiague at about 10:25 p.m. and arrested him.
Kindness matters at Deauville Gardens East
Deauville Gardens East Elementary School in the Copiague School District held a kindness assembly on Sept. 28.
Deauville Gardens East Elementary School in the Copiague School District dressed head-to-toe in blue, representing unity, on Sept. 28 to celebrate this month’s character education trait: kindness.
All grades gathered in the cafeteria for an assembly on kindness, presented this month by Jennifer Kelly’s fourth-grade class. Carrying their painted emoji plates, the students spoke about what kindness means to them and the proper way to treat others.
Each month, Deauville Gardens East guidance counselor Lysa Mullady works with students throughout the school on a different character trait. Students receive “character counts” cards when they are caught showing an act of kindness. Mullady, who added the assembly portion this year, also includes songs and poems in the program, incorporated by the art and music teachers, so students can connect to the character education traits on many different levels.
Brionna Silva, senior captain of the Walter G. O’Connell Copiague High School girls varsity volleyball team, recorded her 1,000th career assist during a match against Smithtown West on Sept. 15. The Copiague School District congratulates Brionna on her achievement!
Alumni inducted into Hall of Achievement
In continuing its mission to inspire students, the Copiague School District inducted three former graduates into its Hall of Achievement at a ceremony following homecoming celebrations on Sept. 24.
The three new inductees were selected for their accomplishments and contributions to the community following their respective graduations through a nominating process. Those inducted include Class of 1984 alumnus Jim Konen; Class of 1998 alumna Dr. Leslie Marino and Class of 1977 alumnus Craig Stadelman.
Konen, who holds a master’s degree from Stony Brook University, is employed as a full-time physical education teacher at Walter G. O’Connell Copiague High School. He previously taught at Copiague Middle School and coaches varsity soccer, varsity wrestling and JV lacrosse. He holds Coach of the Year honors for both lacrosse and soccer and has been voted Suffolk County Lacrosse Coaches Association’s Man of the Year.
Dr. Marino holds a psychology degree from Boston College, a post-baccalaureate in premed from Columbia University and a medical degree from SUNY Downstate in Brooklyn. While working toward her degrees, she took time to participate in a HIV/AIDS awareness program in Tanzania; spent a year working for Dr. Mehmet Oz running a pilot program to bring health education into city schools and studied epidemiology at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. During her residency, she received numerous awards, including the Perry Research Award, the Barbara Liskin Award and was selected by her peers as a chief resident. She is currently a research fellow in the Division on Substance Abuse and works on initiatives with the state and city Department of Health to increase access to treatment for addition.
Stadelman works at the New York Blood Center as a donor specialist and was previously employed as a phlebotomist at Brunswick Hospital Center. When not at work, he is serving as the fire coordinator for the Town of Babylon.
Eagle Pride Soars
School pride was in the air on Sept. 24 as Walter G. O’Connell Copiague High School celebrated homecoming with festivities, including a parade, fair, football game and Hall of Achievement induction ceremony.
The day’s events kicked off with a spirited parade that started at Great Neck Elementary School and ended at the high school. The freshman, sophomore, junior and senior classes marched along the route with their “Around the World”-themed floats, while the marching band provided the soundtrack. Also taking part in the parade were numerous groups and organizations from the high school, middle school and elementary schools.
Following the parade, a ceremony was held on the football field where cheerleaders and the step team performed after the homecoming queen and king, Diana Lopez and Rigaud Destime were introduced. Speaking during the ceremony were school administrators and local government officials.
The afternoon continued as the varsity football team took on Centereach High School. Despite their best efforts, the Eagles were unable to defeat the Cougars.
During the halftime show, the Walter G. O’Connell Copiague High School marching band, cheerleaders and step team treated the crowd to rousing performances.
The festivities concluded with the district’s annual Hall of Achievement induction ceremony at the high school. This year’s inductees included Class of 1984 alumnus Jim Konen, Class of 1998 alumna Dr. Leslie Marino and Class of 1977 alumnus Craig Stadelman.
Wiley Holds Plenty of Peaceful Activities
Students at Susan E. Wiley Elementary School in the Copiague School District celebrated International Day of Peace by engaging in different lessons, such as decorating pinwheels, coloring doves and writing what peace means to them.
Students at Susan E. Wiley Elementary School in the Copiague School District celebrated International Day of Peace on Sept. 21 with a variety of hands-on learning activities.
Dressed in their peace sign clothing, students throughout the school participated by engaging in different lessons. Kindergarten and first-grade students colored doves and wrote messages of peace. Some second-, third-, and fourth-grade classes wrote essays on what peace means to them, watched movies on peace, read books and colored the letters to spell the word peace.
Fifth-grade classes crafted and colored their own pinwheels for peace. The classes joined together to spell the word peace in pinwheels on their playground fence.
Copiague Middle School Pays Tribute to 9/11 Victims
Copiague Middle School paid tribute to victims of 9/11 during a remembrance ceremony and select members of the band played “Taps.”
Students, faculty and administrators at Copiague Middle School in the Copiague School District honored and remembered the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks during a ceremony.
Copiague Middle School Principal Andrew Lagnado read a poem over the public announcement system and offered some insightful words. “By never forgetting and always remembering, it minimizes the chances of history repeating itself,” Lagnado said. “That is why we remember 9-11-01 in such a powerful way each year and it is most certainly why we must teach our younger generation the same. By doing so, we try to do right by those who lost their lives, those who continue to suffer and those who protect us today.”
Members of the band, led by Timothy Gavin, played “Taps” to close out the remembrance ceremony.
Easing the middle school transition
Sixth-grade students at Copiague Middle School in the Copiague School District had an orientation and barbecue on Aug. 31 to meet their new classmates and teachers.
In an effort to ease the transition to their new building, Copiague Middle School in the Copiague School District hosted an orientation and barbecue for sixth-grade students on Aug. 31.
The incoming class was welcomed by Principal Andrew Lagnado, who then introduced each member of the teaching team. Since the students participated in an orientation back in May, the day allowed students to navigate the building, meet their teachers and try out their lockers, Lagnado said.
After a brief tour of the building, the sixth-graders met with their homeroom teacher and received their class schedule. The students tested their lockers and ended the day with a barbecue sponsored by the PTA.
All-State – All-County Musicians Shine in Copiague
All-State and All-County student-musicians from Walter G. O’Connell Copiague High School in the Copiague School District were recently recognized. From left: Walter G. O’Connell Copiague High School musical director Gina Occhiogrosso, Sarah St. Jean, Nicholas Favichia, Kishaar Hodge, Lesly Decastro, Ashley Weekes, Copiague School District Coordinator of Fine Arts Jennifer Pierre-Louis and Walter G. O’Connell Copiague High School Principal Joseph Agosta.
Two Walter G. O’Connell Copiague High School students in the Copiague School District have been selected for the New York State School Music Association’s All-State Conference. Additionally, three students have also been chosen for All-County Honors.
Lesly Decastro and Kishaar Hodge were chosen to perform with the mixed chorus in the NYSSMA All-State Conference from Dec. 1-4 in Rochester, New York.
Joining Decastro and Hodge in the Suffolk County Music Educators Association’s All-County Festival are Copiague student-musicians Nicholas Favichia, Sarah St. Jean and Ashley Weekes in mixed chorus. All-County musicians will perform at Hauppauge School District with other Suffolk County musicians on March 11.
These students were chosen among thousands of student-musicians who auditioned at solo and ensemble festivals throughout Suffolk County and New York State.